This I Believe

Michael - Florence, Oregon
Entered on August 1, 2007
Age Group: 65+

I believe that retirement has 2 purposes: The first is to reinvent yourself, to do something that unleashes latrent potential; potential that was never tapped by the rush to be trained in a “practical” profession (defined as one with which to make a living). More about retirement’s second purpose later.

A successful psychiatric practice in Denver took up 30 years of my life. Retirement, during which I could just loaf, was a very dim, future goal. But retirement ultimately arrived and loafing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I’d mistakenly done something that many of my patients had done; confused how I had made a living with who I was as a human being. Don’t believe anyone who says that psychiatrists don’t get anxious. If anxiety were a commodity, I would have had the matket cornered well enough to be rich.

To maintain sanity, I began pottery lessons with no expection that I’d fall in love. But love it was and still is. I bought my first potter’s wheel, expelled one of our cars from the garage, put up a dividing wall and Mudmusic Studio was born.

There is something magical, if not grandiose, about taking a lump of clay and playing God by turning it into a thing of beauty. As in my previous profession, I specialized and avoided becoming a generalist. Now my pit fired ceramics are in 9 Oregon art galleries. People who like and buy my work aren’t even relatives!

I’ve become a potter who is no longer embarrassed by referring to himself as an artist. The reinvention is complete.

Retirement isn’t about sitting back and putting up your feet. But rather to do that which you love. Too may people in this world don’t do something for its inherent joy. You shouldn’t retire FROM, but rather TO.

Oh, the second purpose of retirment is to be more unconventional than you dare. If you could see me now, you’d recognize my testimony to this my ponytail and the huge collection of Superman Tshirts which I show off by wearing almost daily.